S/4HANA: Connecting Digital Transformation
Whether your organization is undertaking a digital transformation exercise, or whether it has been subject to a takeover, merger, or some impactful structural transformation, altering the technology underpinnings of any business is far from a minor undertaking.
Technology touches every aspect of the enterprise, so IT and digital infrastructures have to reflect, and to a certain extent pre-empt, the changes through which the business goes.
Most organizations today have at least one core IT system that acts as the organizational backbone to the whole enterprise. For medium and larger businesses, ERP systems span multiple divisions, unifying different departments, power collaboration and communication, act as a single source of (data) truth, and reflect overall strategies.
When a large ERP provider like SAP announces its discontinuation of support for a keystone of its offering, SAP Business Suite on Windows (and UNIX), this can form the catalyst for organizations to reassess their digital infrastructure, and presents the opportunity to adapt, refresh and invigorate a significant percentage of digital systems.
Migrating SAP onto a Linux-based platform may not, in reality, be as overwhelming or risky to businesses as it might have seemed at the outset.
The great news is that there are several businesses which will not only help organizations transition their SAP solutions to a Linux-based cloud or data center, but also help with an overarching reinvigoration or reinvention of IT right across the enterprise. We suggest three such suppliers at the end of this article.
However, before you make the leap from SAP Business Suite to S/4HANA on Linux, there are a few thought processes to run through:
- Determine which is the best migration path for your business
Some organizations may take SAP’s actions as a signal to move “into the cloud.” The same question applies both to individual platforms and components of any IT infrastructure. If the answer is in the affirmative, then there are further details to be resolved: a public cloud deployment, or a private, open-source based cloud? Or, a hybrid arrangement offering a mixture of the advantages and disadvantages of both.
- Assessment of the skills already in-house, or required
Are the right training programs in place? Does your team possess the skills both to migrate SAP to Linux, and indeed, to fully support and implement any further digital transformation happening concurrently?
- Realize the benefits of Linux and open source
Any return on investment of a digital transformation project should take into account the potential opportunities for optimization and efficiency offered by an open stack platform. Linux is both powerful and extensible, and by nature, completely personalizable according to an enterprise’s individual requirements.
- Plan, perform risk analysis, test
Risk analysis, ahead of time, decreases the time it will take business owners to come to decisions. Thankfully, even for enterprises with no open-source experience, the companies like those featured below will be able to help, inform, and provide a list of balanced options on an individual basis for each client.
The move to SAP Cloud Platform is one way in which organizations might embrace platform as a service (PaaS). With PaaS, you can focus on the application as required by the business, rather than basing the business on the solutions which “support” them.
The move to SAP S/4HANA opens up many new possibilities that Linux offers, but ones which are tightly integrated with the SAP platform – there’s no need in many cases to jump into the unknown.
For instance, big data analytics can be leveraged using SAP Vora, which is able to access unstructured data in systems such as Hadoop, as well as the structured data within SAP HANA.
Likewise, one buzz phrase familiar to anyone with even more than a passing interest in business technology is the ‘Internet of Things’.
While the impact of IoT has yet to be fully felt, extending the enterprise’s digital proficiencies into this area is possible using SAP Leonardo. Leonardo is perfect for organizations that want to experiment, test, or begin their digital transformation journey, and take on new IoT possibilities.
If your business has SAP at its core, we at TechHQ recommend the following three suppliers of SAP migration knowledge and enablers of digital transformation.
Whether it’s a full IT transformation or the first steps into big data, you’ll need a technically-accomplished consultant both to drive the physical infrastructure realignment, as well as to empower your organization with the possibilities and systems available to it from digital transformation.
The German company SUSE has for many years now been providing enterprise-level versions of its business-oriented Linux distribution, and support, management & development packages to companies which have valued the extensibility and malleability of open source.
The company has been developing infrastructure and specific products for a number of years which are SAP-oriented.
Fellow German company SAP announced that from 2025, SAP deployments will no longer be supported on UNIX or Windows Server platforms, meaning that companies are now rushing to migrate to Linux.
And SAP’s platform of choice, and indeed, the platform of choice for many enterprises, is SUSE.
But the company does not merely provide the OS and a modicum of support for apps deployed on it. Rather, the company’s position as a service-based provider of help and support in the Linux space is mirrored by its move into fuller enablers of digital transformation.
SUSE has never been the stereotypical Linux outfit, choosing a steadfastly business-oriented approach to its products instead.
It recognizes that the catalyst of an SAP redeployment onto SUSE is the perfect opportunity to develop a fuller, more impactful digital realignment (if not a full transformation), and that’s where it can be most effective.
Therefore, to consider SUSE a mere foundation on which digital transformation is built is to miss out on the company’s deep expertise across multiple industries.
Read more about SAP & SUSE here.
The SNP Group offer a range of services to the enterprise that includes, but are not limited to SAP deployments and extensions.
The company’s CrystalBridge software shows an SAP deployment graphically, meaning that entire transformation projects can be visualized and run as a simulation, creating much more predictable outcomes to any IT change proposal.
CrystalBridge can draw on SNP Group’s previous experience of transformative projects, and so can guide and choose for operators planning, conceiving and finally executing alterations and installations.
SNP recognizes that IT’s new strategic role underpins the whole enterprise’s strategy, and is cognizant that unless sufficient planning is undertaken and care given, the structural changes begin to dominate the transformative processes.
The company holds several security-related standards badges and can protect systems according to regional differences in compliance.
The EU’s GDPR is a case in point, where failure to comply with stringent requirements can result in both monetary and reputational losses.
SNP’s software allows real-time monitoring of open interfaces into SAP master data silos, and can granularly mask data, protect backups, and undertake object-based updates (rather than have to take slower, full system copies).
ThoughtFocus is a multi-disciplinary IT consultation and implementation company, with services as broadly ranged as software engineering, business process execution support, QA and testing, process management & automation, and SAP deployment services.
Its SAP solutions include SAP S/4HANA deployments on public or private cloud infrastructures and it can help companies along the migration journey as they move towards fuller and more impactful SAP deployment.
In parallel with traditionally outsourced SAP support (meaning companies can utilize help as-and-when, not bear the burden of fulltime SAP personnel), ThoughtFocus can aid enterprises in moving their SAP platform to public cloud deployments, where the full power of the enterprise-class ERP is available as-a-service.
While many companies will balk at rapid moves into the cloud (the suspicion is always that such deployments are driven by fashion, rather than by specific business need), the company will also help, guide and oversee private cloud infrastructure projects which support & host SAP.
Many enterprises are moving stepwise towards the cloud, not moving wholesale. ThoughtFocus’s offerings are therefore well-suited to those taking this hybrid approach.
The company’s tailored services are available across the globe – this is a supplier to keep an eye on.
*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of TechHQ
6 August 2020